App-controlled smart sunglasses change tint on demand
Tech startup Ampere has smartened up the humble sunglasses with Dusk, a pair of shades that change tint on demand via a phone app or a button press. A deluxe model also packs built-in speakers and a microphone for making calls.
Unlike the classic transitional lenses that are made with photochromic lenses that automatically switch tint in response to brighter light, Dusk are made with electrochromic lenses. This form of glass changes tint in response to electrical signals, and it’s beginning to show up in windows that tint on demand.
Dusk wearers have a few ways to change how dark their specs are. There’s a button on the underside of one arm that cycles through three preset tint levels, or for more detailed control a paired app has a sliding bar that lets users pick anywhere from zero to 100 percent tint. Favorite settings can be saved in profiles to easily find later. Ampere says the switch happens in 0.1 seconds.
If that’s all you’re after in a pair of smart sunnies, the Dusk Lite model is probably enough. But the regular Dusk model also throws in some speakers and a mic, for taking phone calls hands-free, summoning Siri and Google Assistant, or listening to music and podcasts. The speakers are “open ear,” but Ampere says that only the wearer will be able to hear them.
That speaker can also come in handy if you lose them. Using the app you can make the specs cry out like a Tile tracker to help you find them.
In terms of battery life, the company says you’ll get seven days out of Dusk using just the tinting features, or four hours of continuous use of the speakers. Dusk has a water resistance rating of IP65, which Ampere is quick to call “waterproof” but officially means you shouldn’t submerge them at all.
Sunglasses have been rich fodder for startups to cram tech into, and Dusk is far from alone in that arena. Bose has crammed fancy speakers into specs, and even attempted augmented reality, while Intel and Oakley packed in a fitness tracker. Researchers have also experimented with solar cell lenses, or talking glasses that alerted you when you've had enough Sun. Skugga even tried the app-controlled tint, but cancelled the Kickstarter campaign before too long.
It may all be a case of “if it ain’t broke …” but Dusk might appeal to tech heads looking to make that moniker literal.
Ampere is currently funding Dusk on Indiegogo, where it’s already absolutely smashed its US$15,000 target more than 10 times over, with 24 days remaining on the campaign. Super early bird pledges start at $249 for Dusk, or $179 for Dusk Lite, with shipping due to begin in August if all goes to plan.
Check them out in action in the video below.